Jacob Martin (formally known as The Movie King)’s review published on Letterboxd:
100 Greatest Directors Club
Escape from L.A. is a divisive Carpenter flick as the technological advancements in its plot rely on more CGI which, being a 90s flick, stick out like a sore thumb (Kurt Russell tsunami surfing is quite a hilarious sight, though thankfully it's a short sequence and doesn't overstay its welcome like a similar sequence in Die Another Day), there's plenty of rehashed plot beats but in a different setting (similar to Home Alone 2), and it's definitely campier, despite having plot elements that are tonally darker than its predecessor (people getting banished to the post-apocalytic island of L.A. due to the President's befief of an inferior, immoral species of humans and even has them electrocuted if they "repent of their sins").
And you know what, screw it, I dig this one over its prececessor.
Here, it feels like John Carpenter got the budget he needed to make the film with the idea he wanted to make the first time, and was able to shine through with its politically charged premise. President Cliff Robertson is far more layered than Pleasance, and there's plenty of meat to its worldbuilding that's just as relevent in our current society with the freedom of choice under fire and all.
Yes, the CGI in this has aged horribly, and I guess the similar plot beats with the first can be repetitive, but to me, this film feels more like a glorfied remake of the original that went all-out with what I wanted the first time, a crazy ride of camp and meat done to the max, with Kurt Russell taking center stage of it all and ensuring that there's a film that has all the bamg-em-up action with Mad Max-level insanity combined with themes that make people think.
Combine all that with Peter Fonda as a surfing hippie, Bruce Campbell as a surgeon general, Steve Buscemi as a double-crossing pimp, and Pam Grier as a transgender crime boss, and you've got a crazy fun movie that's up there as one of Carpenter's finest movies for me.
Rolling Stone song of the day, #420...
"The Girl Can't Help It" by Little Richard (1957). The theme song to the movie of the same name which apparently inspired both John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it's another catchy as crap Little Richard tune evoking the greatness of early classic rock-and-roll.